14 Top Leadership Traits to Adopt for Becoming a Great Leader
Great leaders give their people a vision that they can collectively work towards. Without adequate leadership traits, progress would be incredibly slow, incoherent, or, at worst, non-existent.
Simon Sinek has this to say about leaders:
“We call them leaders because they go first, because they take the risk before anybody else does, because they will choose to sacrifice so their people will be safe and protected.”
Leaders are given better compensation and status because they have to brave extraordinary risks that other people simply cannot deal with.
What are the leadership traits of a good leader?
These days, everyone wants to become a leader. There is something amazing about being in charge of other people, but unfortunately, not everyone can become a leader of notable worth.
It takes a very unique kind of individual to become a leader. There are several leadership qualities that one must have before they can start their rise to the top of any sort of organizational hierarchy.
Here are some leadership traits that you should adopt if you want to become a great leader
They have a long-term vision.
Leadership is all about learning from the past, progressing in the present, and preparing for the future. Without a long-term vision, leaders will not be able to provide a safety net for themselves and their dependents.
Having a shared vision is essential for organizational success. If the people in your organization are not on the same page, you will most likely end up with unnecessary conflicts and a prevalent lack of focus.
It is your solemn duty as a leader to bring your team on the same page and empower the team to work towards a common goal. Good leaders make it a point to create a broader vision in which everyone has a valuable part to play.
Without a leader who can develop a plan for a bright future, the organization will eventually start to crumble as roadblocks and obstacles present themselves periodically.
2. Being intelligent.
All great leaders are intelligent. Think about it. Why would a person follow someone who has a much lower mental acumen? Now intelligence isn’t the only trait you need if you want to be successful, but it does set you up for success.
If a leader doesn’t know how to do something, they’ll go on to employ someone who has the needed skill set to get the job done. Great leaders are smart enough to know if something is out of their field of expertise.
Apart from luck, intelligence is one of the most important traits you can have as a leader. By being smart and thinking on your feet, you’ll be able to avoid stressful situations and position yourself to set you up for success.
3. Have an open mind.
A vast majority of great leaders have an open mind. Having an open mind means that they are willing to acknowledge and even adapt viewpoints and perspectives that are significantly different from theirs.
Good leaders need to have a high level of awareness. Things can change rather quickly, and people at the top of an organization need to adapt to these kinds of situations as soon as possible.
In our modern world of social media and the internet, there are several opportunities for those willing to acknowledge them and take advantage of these opportunities.
By being open to new ideas and opportunities, leaders can enable themselves and their teams to perform extremely well in all kinds of situations.
4. Be down to earth.
Humility is a trait that not many people have these days. It takes a very special kind of person to put themselves on the same level as the people around them.
Bad leaders or people who are the only ones that think of themselves as great leaders often believe that since they are in a position of power, they are better than other people. Nobody likes to deal with people who think that their teammates or other people are below them.
Good leaders know that people like it when you treat everyone the same way. Just because someone is in a position of power doesn’t mean that they can ignore all forms of decency towards others.
By being down to earth, you can start building incredibly valuable relationships with the people around you. Naturally, some people will be higher up in the hierarchy of an organization, but that shouldn’t allow these people to look down on people lower down the organizational chain.
5. Listen to their teammates.
Listening is a leadership trait that all good leaders possess. You will hardly ever see a top management executive who is doing more talking than listening.
People who do not listen to others are perceived as disrespectful, but they also miss out on what the other people are thinking. If you want to read other people’s minds, you don’t need to be shamans or monks. Leaders need to do is to be attentive and listen to them when they are talking.
Good leaders make it a point to listen to their teammates. By doing this simple act of taking the time out of your busy day to listen to your team, you’re empowering your team. But don’t just stop at listening, take all of the best points from the discussion and apply it to your business processes.
6. They make themselves accountable.
Accountability is a crucial theme for leaders of today. In the past, people who were in leadership positions often abused their authority in a way that was detrimental to not only the organization they were in but also the people around them.
When leaders are not accountable, you will often observe that the team starts to crumble, and a very toxic work culture starts to prevail. Toxic company culture can only be fixed when everyone, including the management and leaders at the top, makes a conscious decision to set things right.
In our modern world, people need to be accountable for themselves and their actions. By being accountable, leaders empower themselves. Since they have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, they can’t be blackmailed.
Making oneself accountable is necessary these days. If the leader at the top of the hierarchy makes themselves accountable, then the people further below the chain will also evaluate their actions.
7.They have a thick skin.
Managing people and making sure that the organization is functioning properly is not an easy job. People at the stop are scrutinized extensively by everyone.
From the literal bottom of the chain of command up to the very top of any organization, competitors, as well as family members, will pass comments and make remarks when you’re in a position of power and command.
Leaders who do not have thick skin, end up taking things too much to heart. In business and in life, if you make too many decisions based solely on your emotions, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Good leaders need to have a thick skin because it allows them to take in criticism and not have their morale lowered by it. Things can get messy and difficult when you are in charge of any group of people, and everyone is entitled to their opinions.
As the person in charge, you cannot get triggered or offended by some random comment passed by a person who doesn’t know you.
Social media has done one of two things for leaders. For some leaders, it has made them prone to getting hurt by comments. Other leaders have realized thanks to social media that words will remain words, and people in leadership positions should not be taken aback by such comments and words.
8. Find solutions to problems.
Problem-solving is a desirable leadership trait in young people looking to make their way into a managerial position. We give leaders a higher status and benefits in a company or organization because of their ability to make decisions and solve problems.
Solving problems seems like anybody can do it. But the fact of the matter is, even a small family run business can go through several challenging scenarios. Without the ability to go through these issues in a timely manner, the company will come crumbling down.
Larger organizations have people to deal with these severe problems, or if they are particularly affluent, they might even hire a management firm to solve the most pressing issues.
If you are a problem solver, your chances of becoming a leader increase significantly. This is how significant problem solving is as a leadership trait.
9. They do not micromanage.
Micromanagement is a curse. Taking time out of your already super busy day to interfere with the work of your subordinates and being nitpicky about it is not a good use of your power or authority. If you have time to waste micromanaging other people, then you may need to reevaluate how you are spending your time.
Good leaders trust their teammates to make the right decisions. If only the leader is capable of making the right decisions, the organization will not be very functional.
Here is what Steve Jobs had to say about his job as a leader:
“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”
Leaders realize that micromanagement and making decisions for other people is not a good professional practice. If you keep making decisions for others, you are not giving your subordinates the chance to polish their own leadership skills.
A great leadership trait to have is to raise young leaders. By trusting other people to do their jobs correctly, you are not only building their confidence but are also giving them invaluable experience at an early stage in their careers.
10. They make tough decisions.
Being at the top of any company or organization is a very lonely place. Good leaders realize that the decisions they make will have an impact not only on the profitability and longevity of the business, but it will also affect the livelihoods of people that work for that company.
Decision making is closely linked to problem-solving. If you are great at coming up with solutions and answering some of the toughest questions, then all that’s left is choosing the best option and signing off the decision.
People in leadership positions find themselves in situations where they will have to make a decision that will leave many people unhappy. Not every decision is going to be like this, but quite a few are, and leaders need to prepare themselves for it.
As a leader, you should be/ need to be able to make decisions with the most favorable outcomes for everyone involved, including your organization, as well as all stakeholders affiliated with you.
11. They motivate others.
If the organization or business is not doing particularly well and things are in decline, you will start to see a complete decomposition of company culture. Toxic culture becomes prevalent if items are not particularly favorable in an organization.
Good leaders are able to predict these kinds of things before they even happen.
Before things get really tough and unbearable, great leaders are able to formulate a strategy and devise a plan and strategy that will produce the best outcome. Since things are well sought out already, a leader will be able to motivate their teams and let them know that everything will be alright.
Motivating your team is always a great idea, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be overly excited all the time. Small gestures like bringing snacks or giving praise when someone has done something exceptional is a great motivator.
You don’t need stunts or gimmicks to motivate your people. All you need is a real, genuine desire to make your people feel empowered, and your people will respond in kind to your call to action.
12. They are forever students.
People often forget that continually improving yourself and learning new things is essential to success, at home, and at your workspace.
You will often see book recommendations from people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. If these extraordinarily successful people can find the time to read, then you can too.
Reading and learning are a part of those kinds of learning qualities that really make a person stand out. Being well-read and having at least a surface-level knowledge on a multitude of topics, you’ll be able to hold your ground in front of anyone reasonably.
Being a forever student is one of those leadership traits that make you stand out from the people around you. Good leaders realize that to stay relevant in our dynamic, continually changing world, you need to stay up to speed with the best and latest industry practices and latest trends.
13. They are charismatic.
Being charismatic is a blessing. Not everyone is naturally charismatic, and that’s alright. But with time and by making a conscious effort, you can start your journey to becoming charismatic.
You will observe that notable leaders are incredibly charismatic. It’s not a leadership trait that you might expect from leaders that are high achievers, high performers.
Being charismatic is one of those leadership qualities that will amplify all of your other attributes and traits. Think about it.
If someone in a managerial position is doing everything right, but the way they present themselves or interact with people is off, you won’t be particularly thrilled to work under them.
Charismatic leaders are able to lead their teams in extraordinarily difficult situations. By being charismatic, a leader is able to project that everything is under control even if things are still quite shaky.
Another advantage of being charming is that you have an edge when it comes to negotiations. If you are charming, other people will be more inclined to give you what you want. As a leader, getting what you want is always great for your team and for yourself.
14. They care about other people.
Empathy will take you places. In the past, bad leadership and faulty business practices promoted the view of maximizing profits at the cost of people, customers, and staff alike. Thankfully, this has changed.
Business leaders now realize the impact that empathy can have on people and on the bottom line for organizations. Instead of only thinking about short term gains, modern leaders are in the long game of building relationships and keep customers coming back again and again.
As a leader, you are directly responsible for your teammates and dependents. By taking care of your team, you are giving your team the space they need to do maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Taking care of other people isn’t just limited to your team. Great leaders make sure to find solutions that help everyone. From suppliers to management, logistics to tech support, a good leader is able to employ empathy for the greater good.
Without adopting essential leadership traits, you won’t be able to lead and manage your people effectively. Things can be unpredictable in life, but good leaders are able to make their way even through these uncertain situations.